Appeal of Jerry Anderson civil suit to be heard Jan. 29

Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office files appeal in U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.
Jan. 06, 2013 @ 07:47 AM

An appeal against a lawsuit filed by former murder defendant Jerry Lee Anderson will be heard in Federal court on Jan. 29.

The appeal was filed by the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office and will be heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va. The appeal is in response to a civil suit filed two years ago by Anderson against the sheriff’s office — including Sheriff Alan Jones and additional current and former employees — in Buncombe County. Anderson was arrested Jan. 27, 2006, by the late Sheriff Gary Clark and charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Emily Griffit Anderson. The couple resided on a dairy farm in Sawmills at the time of her disappearance and murder. He was indicted by a grand jury on the first-degree charge and prosecutors sought the death penalty. According to the complaint, Anderson seeks monetary damages for violations to his constitutional and civil rights, claiming the sheriff’s office ignored evidence that proved his innocence.

“Evidence shows someone in South Carolina killed Mrs. Anderson,” said Robert Elliott, attorney for Jerry Anderson. “He was not in South Carolina, and there is clear evidence she was alive (while still in North Carolina). We contend the evidence shows officers ignored any evidence proving his innocence.”

Anderson’s suit also claimed damages due to his 18-month incarceration, the trial for his life and the loss of his business and farm.

According to Elliott, lawyers representing the sheriff’s office claim that whatever they did wrong, it did not amount to a violation of Anderson’s Constitutional rights.

“They contend even if they failed to investigate evidence that would prove his innocence, his rights were not violated,” Elliott added.

The appeal was able to be filed under a claim of qualified immunity, a doctrine in federal law that shields government officials from liability for the violation of an individual’s federal constitutional rights.

“We were ready to go to trial, but the government can appeal before the trial gets underway,” Elliott said.

Elliott said Anderson is working as a farmer in Kentucky, and is doing as well as he can and trying to carry on with his life.

Sheriff Jones was not available for comment at press time.